Regardless of its box office success, this film loses its occasional significance with a length of 2 hours and 12 minutes.
Shazam! is a film about and for teenagers. From an adult perspective, it is saved by focusing on the struggles of kids living in a foster home, but that simply makes the experience semi-tolerable.
The film begins in the same fashion as Us. Once again, we find a young child at an amusement park who experiences a trauma that changes his life. Here, the child becomes separated from his mother while looking for a prize after dropping it in a large crowd. The film then jumps to years later where a fourteen-year-old is still trying to find Mommy.
The boy is played by Asher Angel, and for reasons that never become clear he finds himself venturing into an underworld cave occupied by a wizard known simply as Wizard (an unrecognizable Djimon Hounsou). Angel’s character, known as Billy Batson, is given a magical shaft where he transforms into an adult superhero by simply saying the word “shazam”.
As Billy wrestles with his new existence, the strength of the film flows from his friendship with Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), a smart school comrade who walks with the assistance of a cane. When Freddy becomes the target of bullies, Billy begins to discover his purpose in life.
In the process, Billy joins Freddy with other teenagers at a foster home run by Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa Vasquez (Marta Milans). All of other kids in the home are trying to wrestle with their purpose in life, and Faith Herman stands out as the pugnacious eight-year-old Darla.
While this could have been an interesting film had it simply concentrated on the lives of these young kids, it proceeds to confirm my suspicions after watching the sophomoric trailer. When Billy becomes a superhero, he is left constantly trying to understand his strengths. While it is at times funny, I suspect you will also find it to be a bit tiresome.
A large portion of this mediocre film deals with Shazam’s (played tolerably by Zachary Levi) battle with a villain known as Dr. Sivana and his underworld monsters. While their midair battles result with Shazam repeatedly being thrown to the ground, Mark Strong brings some emotional strength to the movie in his role as the villain Sivana.
While it is apparent that many people liked this movie, count me out. Pedestrian at best, you need to see it with teenagers. It reaffirms their existence.